Metaverse and health: a premature revolution?

If there’s one topic that’s been buzzing in the media for weeks, it’s the Metaverse. Considered the next digital revolution, the metaverse is shaking up the companies that take it over.

But for the general public it is quite another thing, the metaverse, described as “the future of the internet”, is rather obscure and its notoriety is still rather relative. In fact, 75% of French people express fears about the metaverse, according to the study carried out in January 2022 by Ifop for the innovation consultancy Talan.

The metaverse applied to health: késako?

It is a shared and persistent fictitious virtual world, accessible online, in which each individual can move and interact within different communities in the form of an avatar.

In the field of health, the metaverse will no doubt have a major impact within a few years. At the same time on the aspect of medical training, patient journey, surgery or even for the management of pathologies such as the management of phobias. It could provide solutions to meet the many challenges of tomorrow. For example, it will allow you to create meetings between patients and healthcare professionals in a virtual place such as a hospital or doctor’s office. The patient will no longer have to travel and will follow his treatment at home, access expertise and discuss with his doctor in this shared virtual reality space.

In a context of global population aging, it will provide a real response to hospital overcrowding, emergencies, but also medical desertification.

But let us not be fooled… this future technology will not replace real-world patient care, much less the clinical assessment and human contact that we know are essential in these caring professions. Rather, it will be seen as one tool among many others for tackling tomorrow’s challenges.

A virtual medical world: myth or reality?

The pandemic has really accelerated the digitization of health thanks to the development of telemedicine, teleconsultation platforms or even health applications… thus demonstrating that man is able to adapt to these new connected tools.

But this health crisis has above all highlighted the profound shortcomings of our health system: lack of carers, tension in the hospital, emergency crisis… arguments hammered by journalists in prime time.

In the spotlight, the media has offered innovative new media (podcasts, live blogs, videos, etc.) to stand out and make the mass of information more accessible and educational. And the challenge was tough! The various media positions of doctors and politicians, who have multiplied their interventions on televisions, have created a real “hustle” and a real distrust. Between passion and scandal, conspiracy theory and apocalyptic figures, the French have been confused by this ultra-massive media coverage… The epidemic has generated, in the evening news of the main channels (TF1, France 2, France 3, Arte and M6 ), almost 8,500 subjects in the first half of 2020, or “50 subjects on average per day” according to a study published in Ina Media Review. A disproportionate number…

Better communication to protect healthcare workers and facilities: a necessity!

Healthcare professionals must become aware of the impact of communication and accept training. You have to know how to get out of your universe and your scientific environment to communicate effectively. Communication is not innate, it works and requires training in the same way as a medical technique. Media-training, simulations, interviews in front of the camera, interventions on social networks, the panel of “good practices” is wide and so is the room for improvement. Health is everyone’s business and its issues, which can affect each of us in the most intimate way, are factors of emotion and therefore of controversy! And in a regulated and delicate context like the healthcare one, in this area where the judicial system is exploding, uncontrolled communication can quickly turn into a crisis.

To avoid putting yourself in harm’s way when speaking, as much as necessary, and to protect the establishments you work for and their reputations, train yourself! The French are asking for health professionals who are more humane and who communicate better, and this is good, because it demonstrates the population’s interest in health.

Laying the foundations, simplifying the speech, avoiding medical jargon, listening and creating a true relationship of trust, this is the key to successful “healthy” communication. Innovating elsewhere in the metaverse, why not?

The metaverse: an added value for healthcare communication?

The metaverse obviously constitutes a new universe for communication, in the same way as social media or media relations. But, to integrate it into future, more creative and imaginative communication strategies, some inputs are needed: understanding communication, mastering its techniques, training communicators, creating a reliable and secure framework… Indeed, the prospects of the metaverse are enormous , but there is a big challenge: knowing how to adapt to all targets and in particular to people furthest from digital, such as the elderly.

The world of virtualized medicine is already fully present in the health field and will be even more significant in the near future. At a time when Ms. Cynthia Fleury, professor of philosophy at Saint-Anne Hospital declares “cure is a humanism”, it is quite paradoxical to expect the metaverse to be a more valuable tool in the field of health, or even who recreates the link? We feel that we urgently need to reconnect to “real life”…

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